IR # 97-31
Tuesday, June 3, 1997

Rick Rice
Troy Swauger
(415) 972-8835

Ergonomic Regulation Gains OAL Approval - Filed With Secretary of State

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board announced today that it has received approval by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on an amended "ergonomics" standard, required by statute to minimize work-related repetitive motion injuries. The regulation, which is the first of its kind in the nation, will be filed with the Secretary of State today and is slated to become effective July 3, 1997.

"We are pleased that the minor modifications the Board has made now meet with the standard of clarity established by OAL," said John MacLeod, Executive Officer of the Standards Board.

The regulation was first adopted by the Standards Board in November 1996, but it was returned in January by the OAL, California's administrative oversight agency, to address its concerns for a clearer format and more easily understood terminology. With approval of this regulation the Standards Board is now in compliance with the legislative mandate and court order requiring the Board to adopt a regulation reducing repetitive motion injuries in the workplace.

The new regulation, which is substantively unchanged from the prior version, will apply to businesses having 10 or more employees.

The regulation will be triggered at any worksite only when at least two employees performing identical tasks have been diagnosed with work-related repetitive motion injury (RMI) within 12 consecutive months. Should that occur, the employer must establish and implement a program designed to minimize the condition. The regulation calls for the employer to evaluate the affected worksite, control the exposures that cause RMI and provide training to affected employees.

Legal challenges to disallow certain aspects of the regulation had been filed in Sacramento Superior Court prior to completion of the rulemaking process. However, on April 11, Judge James T. Ford decided that the Standards Board could continue to complete the rulemaking process. The Board then proceeded to readopt the regulation in its current form and has now completed its rulemaking process with OAL's approval of the new Title 8 section 5110, Repetitive Motion Injuries.